ASTROS 2, PIRATES 0
Sunday, August 20, 1978 at Three Rivers Stadium
Game 1619 – 11/15/19
Houston third baseman Enos Cabell went 2-for-5 and scored the game’s only two runs, and pitchers Joaquin Andujar and Tom Dixon combined on a 4-hit shutout, as the Astros took their second straight from the Pirates by a 2-0 count, earning a split of their four-game series at a rain-soaked Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
Cabell led off the game with a gap double off Buc starter Don Robinson (5-13); he advanced to third on a fly out to right by Jose Cruz, and scored when Robinson uncorked a wild pitch past catcher Ed Ott, handing the Astros a quick 1-0 lead. Two innings later, Cabell would strike again; after punching a base hit past Willie Stargell at first, he stole both second and third before jogging home on Terry Puhl’s line-drive single up the middle, rounding out the game’s scoring.
Like Friday’s match-up, the game would be delayed in the middle innings, thanks to a Midwest thunderstorm that had plagued Pittsburgh and the surrounding region all weekend. This time, however, the game wasn’t called off, and after a nearly a thirty-minute delay in the fourth, the tarps were pulled back and the proceedings continued. Robinson seemed to take advantage of the rest, and would shut down the Astros over the next four frames, giving way to reliever Grant Jackson in the eighth, who would also curb the Houston attack.
But Andujar (8-6) and Dixon would do the same, blanking the Bucs over a full nine innings while running into trouble only twice: when John Milner reached third base with one out in the second, and when Pittsburgh put Dave Parker and John Milner on the corners with two out in the sixth. Both times, Andujar escaped unscathed, preserving the shutout. “I got lucky in the sixth,” he said following the game. “I grooved that last pitch to Eddie (batter Ott), and I thought for sure he’d drive it out…but he got under it instead, popped it up, and saved my ass.”
Cabell was by far the game’s offensive leader, racking up a single and double, two runs scored, and two stolen bases; for the Bucs, Dave Parker led the way with a 2-for-4 night. And though Robinson and Jackson combined to strike out ten Houston batters, it wasn’t enough to derail the efforts of Andujar, who won his third game of the month and dropped his season ERA to 2.96. Dixon, meanwhile, pitched a perfect ninth to record his first save of the season, and the first of his major league career.
• The game was played at night at site AZ18 in Peoria, Arizona on the living room table, while I listened to Back in the High Life by Steve Winwood off a recently-purchased LP.
• This was the 116th game played at site AZ18, good for 4th place on the all-time games hosted list.
• This was the fourth game ever played on this date, and the first since 2015.
• The Z card drawn in the middle of the fourth was actually a ‘skies break loose, game is called’ result. But with today’s match-up being the last between the two teams in Pittsburgh this season, I chose to cancel the rainout and have it merely delayed instead, for 26 minutes.
• When Bill Robinson pinch-hit for Don Robinson in the seventh, it was the first time this season that Robinson had hit for Robinson.
• And after 91 games played in both left field and right field, this was the first time Bill Robinson played in center; after pinch-hitting in the seventh, he took over for Omar Moreno for the eighth and ninth innings.
• Houston reliever Tom Dixon had only one save during the actual 1978 season, and as it turned out, it would be the only save of his career; he would pitch three seasons with the Astros and one with the Expos before retiring in 1983.
• Three Rivers Stadium was already the SP78 leader in called, postponed, and delayed games, with seven, before adding to the total tonight with yet another moisture-ridden contest in Pittsburgh.